New Polish PM signals cautious approach on euro accession

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 01, 2014 6:15 AM

By Marcin Goettig and Pawel Sobczak

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's new Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said on Wednesday she would largely stick to the policies of her predecessor Donald Tusk, including a cautious approach to the question of when eastern Europe's biggest economy will join the euro.

In her first major policy speech as prime minister, Kopacz tried to appeal to voters before a parliamentary election next year, casting her government as caring and focused on the interests of ordinary Polish families.

President Bronislaw Komorowski, a party ally, had said it was time for Poland to start a debate about accession to the European single currency, raising expectations Kopacz may announce a deadline for Poland's entry.

But Kopacz, echoing the stance of the previous government, said that as well as Poland meeting the technical criteria for euro entry, the euro zone needed to show it was stable.

"We must remember that the euro zone only recently experienced the biggest crisis in its history," Kopacz told parliament. "Both Poland and the countries of the euro zone have some homework to do."

"A strengthened euro zone and a stable economy; these are the two criteria which will define the best moment for adopting the single currency."

One of the advisors who helped Kopacz draft her speech was former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. Born in Britain, he is close to Britain's eurosceptic finance minister George Osborne and was the architect of Poland's cautious approach to the euro under Tusk.

Tusk, who will soon move to Brussels to become head of the European Council, told reporters after the speech that Kopacz's stance was "without doubt a continuation" of his own strategy on euro entry.

On foreign policy, the new prime minister promised more continuity. She said her government would not stand for a break-up of neighbouring Ukraine and would push for a greater U.S. military presence in Poland as a deterrent to possible Russian aggression.

(Additional reporting by Wiktor Szary and Marcin Goclowski; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Marcin Goclowski)